Monday, January 27, 2014

Errant thoughts

I can't really say when I knew, but I know it now. And, oddly enough, the friends I have spoken with about it, they say, "Well, yeah, man, it seemed obvious to me." It's odd, because you think the internal struggles and silent pains are named accurately. You never speak up, but you do have those moments where a friend in the right place at the right time sees you there, in the bedroom, door cracked, in an all-too revealing gesture.

I have these questions. Was I ever? It all makes sense, the difficulties I had with fitting in, the constant fear of being discovered, the knowing looks a stranger gives me from across the bus; all my life of feigning something conventional makes sense if the shell was only an appearance, an outer protective barrier, harboring a slimy, corpuscular, spineless muckeater inside. Is this the right way to think about it?

But it's very apparent to me now, now that I have reconciled myself to a hard truth. It's apparent because, for once again in my life, I am on the outside of a very vocal but otherwise torpid blob.

By that, I mean Christianity.

I gave a lot of my life and my soul to studying texts, histories, philosophies, logics, evidences, and also letting my feelings and my body run through the emotional and spiritual excesses of retreats, camps, weekends, calls, services, small groups. I don't actually regret any of it. This isn't about me being angry with the wastefulness, or bitter about what was essentially an economic scam.

I go online, a bit too often. I come across a discussion about race, or sex, or welfare, or Jesus being denied a slot at some tiny county's political situation, and there are these people. People who uniformly come across as arrogant, unyielding, patronizing, and completely inhospitable to someone wildly different from themselves, they appear all over the Internet, but also in tattered booths or wobbly chairs at my biscuit shop or my country cooking diner. They pray to a god I never knew, because the god I knew spoke more often about the stranger, the foreigner, the runner, the lost and fleeing, the dispossessed and elevated the moral activity of hospitality than that god ever spoke about gay butt sex or liberalism.

When you stand on the outside, finally, you can see and hear a lot better.

I don't believe in that god. I do believe in something else, something that flows alongside even the Christian sense of the story of it all, but at this point, I don't think that is one closet I will ever willingly go back into.

I have seen and felt too much of the magic of this world to confuse what I feel with a particularly localized version of the Spirit. I have studied too far and too much of how Christianity came to be to embrace it, and it's time I stop trying to go back and force the text to do things I know damn well it cannot do. If I reject that in the arrogant ones, how can I authentically practice within a religion, even with all its variant traditions and heretical children, the same utilitarian misreading?

If I am to embrace a new path, then at least I should acknowledge only the sympathies and the resonances, and not continue to argue that what I see is a "hidden truth" to the Christian text. I have to acknowledge what I am doing is a much more creative act of stringing together riffs, beats, samples into something my own, learning how to listen less to my own exploring ego and more to what moves through me to tell its own story.

You tell me. What does it say about a mongrel kid, a margin-straddling youth, that all his life he was fascinated by contradictions, inconsistencies, and paradoxes? Or that, as an adult, he comes to embrace the real puzzle of life as a breaking mystery, a fragile shattering? It's a fairly conventional story. By the fifth act, he will have reached his final unfolding, had the epiphany, resolved to do well and live justly, and sits penning his memoirs.

I guess this is why I like Zhuangzi and Pascal as much as I do. Both of them are very determined to tell a fascinating story to make a philosophical point about the allure of reason, logic, and evidence, when the entire life one has moves far beyond however much the law, all the laws, limit us. They just ask us to actually notice how perverse we are, to acknowledge how proudly we act on the infinitesimal nothing we do know. There is at once despair and joy in learning where the mind breaks down. I cry when I read Pascal and I cry when I read Zhuangzi.

But I am crying because I exult. I am overwhelmed with feeling the burden no longer impeding the flow; the obstruction in the field is no longer there, and so the rush of Yes hits me and strikes me and claims me and shatters me. There, in my chair, in public, in my bed, on a bus, waiting in line for fried catfish, there I am reborn as the conjunction of opposing things and alive.

It isn't the result of an emotionally manipulative weekend. It's not a forced affectation my guilt inspires. It's just the intellectual awareness that in this language I find myself, and by finding who I am, spiritually awakened I need more.

I can't say whether I am blazing the trail, following a goat path already there, constructing the scene as I go, reimaging an entire topology of belief, or what. I will only say that there is so much more that makes sense in embracing the magic of the things that are than in sitting in a hard, wooden pew listening to a man passing off politics through inaccurate interpretations.

But the best advice I'll give myself is to stop reading Internet comments from cranks and the constipated.

1 comment:

Is this wise?
Is this yours?
Is this love?

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